The One True Quality That Makes Or Breaks a Relationship

If you are currently dating someone, reflect on the initial months of the relationship, in particular the early stages of getting to know that person. How open and truthful were you about your background? In the intoxicating haze of new love, did you wear a mask for your partner? Maybe tucked away inconvenient truths, like surprise kids or credit card woes. Or perhaps you silenced your inner voice, swallowing discomfort for the sake of “happily ever after.” But what if honesty, not silence, is the real magic of love? Can you imagine your relationship being built on openness, even when it’s messy? Take a breath, unmask, and see what blooms. But unfortunately, people are inclined to keep information from their partner or ignore major red flags in the early stages of romance because they want so much for the relationship to work out.

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The fear of “rocking the boat” or coming across as high-maintenance might mean a few additional dates, but in the long run, it will doom the relationship. Likewise, it is understandable that an individual might be afraid to open themselves up to a new partner because of past experiences. For instance, if a previous partner responded negatively to their attempts at being honest and trustworthy, they might see these traits as a vice rather than a virtue. But whether someone is lying about their food preferences (something rather minor) or fails to disclose they have an STD (a pretty major, earth-shattering revelation), not being honest can have serious consequences.

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By hiding the truth, you are essentially living a lie whenever you and your partner get together. They aren’t being allowed to know the real you, which is unfair to them because they might very well be wasting their time with the wrong partner. There are certain lies that you can keep for a while, but the truth will eventually come out, and when it does, your significant other is left deciding whether they want to be with the person they thought they loved or the person who turns out to have a lot of baggage?

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The best—and quite frankly only—time to be completely authentic with your partner is at the beginning of the relationship. At this stage, you tend to see each other through rose-colored glasses. Positive feelings are in abundance, and there is more of an eagerness to forgive. Resilience is high, and bouncing back from setbacks is far easier.

You might be thinking to yourself, “But if I’m honest with them, they might not like me.” But here’s the thing: if they genuinely love you for who you are, they will accept you, warts and all. And if they can’t, then the relationship wasn’t meant to be anyway.

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Here’s another thing to consider: the more open you are about yourself to your partner, the more likely he or she will feel comfortable sharing things about themselves with you. Being authentic allows for two important things: it ensures you are yourself, and it makes it so much easier to resolve the inevitable conflicts that all partners have from time to time.

Embrace authenticity in your relationship at any stage. Pledge to be transparent about your emotions and needs starting today. You might very well observe remarkable transformations both in you and your significant other as you commit to “speaking their truth.”

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Of course, this isn’t to say that you have to reveal everything on the first date. For example, immediately sharing with them that you had a traumatic experience as a child that affects you to this day might leave them with the impression that you’ve got serious issues, and they might not want to stick around to discover them. On the other hand, once you’ve become comfortable with each other and you know they will respond to your past with support and care, that’s the right time to come out.

Practicing to be more authentic might make you feel a bit anxious at first, but it won’t be long before you realize how much it pays off in terms of connection, true intimacy, and lasting love. Everybody’s goal is to find something they can spend the rest of their lives with, and it’s unabashed authenticity that allows couples to succeed in the long term.